An independent probe into harassment at city hall could cost taxpayers close to half a million dollars by the time it’s complete, new estimates from city staff suggest.

(File photo)

Rubin Thomlinson, a Toronto law firm, has so far launched 18 investigations, probing about half of the total complaints received during an initial assessment. So far, it has cost about $90,000, but staff expect the cost to rise much higher, according to a report headed to city politicians next week.

Staff want council to approve an extra $200,000 above the quarter-million staff have the power to spend under a procurement policy.

“Suitable sources of funding have been identified in the operating budget to support this work,” human resources boss Bill Coxhead wrote in a report to the corporate services committee.

Deputy Mayor Paul Hubert said a rising price tag shouldn’t stop city hall from investigating fully.

“Council is committed to ensuring that the culture at city hall changes and that we deal with any form of harassment. If it costs more to do that, and to do it right, then we need to spend the money to do it,” he said.

London hired Rubin Thomlinson, a well-known firm that specializes in workplace investigations, to examine complaints from city workers and launch a culture review at city hall after rumours of bullying and harassment erupted in March.

Five letters of complaint were sent to the mayor and council disappeared behind closed doors at a hastily called special meeting. Claims of a toxic work culture – especially at the fire department – were reported to The Free Press by city employees.

In June, staff gave an initial report on the investigation to politicians. At that point, 30 complaints had been received and 12 investigations launched.

mstacey@postmedia.com

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Source: Cost to probe city hall harassment could reach $450,000 | The London Free Press